Friday, August 24, 2007

"Like all true believers, I am truly skeptical of all that I have said" - The World Can Wait by Over The Rhine.

"We've got to stop equating Christianity with a smile." - singer/author Charlie Peacock, after a bandmate took his own life.

In the church, it seems like we fall into a few destructive habits:

1) We love stories of people who have it all figured out.
2) We love buying DVDs, books, and seminar tickets from or about people who have it all figured out.
3) Too much doubt and uncertainty from someone we thought had it all figured out will likely send us looking for someone else who has it all figured out.
4) We think good Christians aren't tormented by their questions and doubts.
5) We think there's such a thing as a "good" Christian.

A new book about Mother Teresa's spiritual darkness is coming out soon, and Time has an article about the response to some of the revelations. Some are cynically pointing to this to show that she was a closet atheist, others are comparing her to St. John of the Cross. Others have a hard time seeing the woman who took a vow of poverty and spoke of seeing Jesus in every person she cared for begging the same Jesus to return to her.

I'll probably have to check this book out in the future. I'm not always clear on the Catholic views of intimacy and experiencing Christ (although it's clear the view of the Eucharist is quite different than in the Baptist/Reformed circles I've lived in), but from the samples I've read it appears we sometimes suffer from the same problems: We believe in a God we cannot see, a Jesus who was on earth centuries ago, and a Holy Spirit we are told lives in the Christian. We are told the evidence is around us, and the stories of God's love are documented in the Bible.

And yet, few (if any) can pretend to not sympathize to at least a small extent. Part of the faith is the questioning. I don't know how there can be belief without doubting at first. King David wrote accusatory Psalms to God, demanding to know where he went. While we all love a happy ending (and our music and Sunday School version of Bible Stories tend to emphasize only the happy endings, sometimes at the expense of the actual story), David's story does not end with what would be considered "happy." One son dies in birth, another is killed, his best friend is killed in battle, and ultimately his other son would be the downfall of his great kingdom. We like the stories of the child killing the giant, the older man opting not to kill Saul out of respect for his God, even the repentant man caught in murder and adultery. But the other side of David, the side we see when we read the whole story, is one of tragedy and times of emptiness.

If we're honest, none of us have it all together. Searching the history of the Christian faith or even our own friends and family should show plenty of examples of this. If we know beforehand that we're not immune, we can plan ahead and look for hope beyond tangible evidence.

"Love Never fails, mercy will prevail - I want to swear it's true, but it's so hard to defend it" - Mercy Will Prevail by The Choir


Post a Comment

<< Home